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Developing a Custom Transformation Component with Asynchronous Outputs

You use a component with asynchronous outputs when a transform cannot output rows until the component has received all its input rows, or when the transformation does not produce exactly one output row for each row received as input. The Aggregate transformation, for example, cannot calculate a sum across rows until it has read all the rows. In contrast, you can use a component with synchronous outputs any time when you modify each row of data as it passes through. You can modify the data for each row in place, or you can create one or more new columns, each of which has a value for every one of the input rows. For more information about the difference between synchronous and asynchronous components, see Understanding Synchronous and Asynchronous Transformations.

Transformation components with asynchronous outputs are unique because they act as both destination and source components. This kind of component receives rows from upstream components, and adds rows that are consumed by downstream components. No other data flow component performs both of these operations.

The columns from upstream components that are available to a component with synchronous outputs are automatically available to components downstream from the component. Therefore, a component with synchronous outputs does not have to define any output columns to provide columns and rows to the next component. Components with asynchronous outputs, on the other hand, must define output columns and provide rows to downstream components. Therefore a component with asynchronous outputs has more tasks to perform during both design and execution time, and the component developer has more code to implement.

SQL Server Integration Services contains several transformations with asynchronous outputs. For example, the Sort transformation requires all its rows before it can sort them, and achieves this by using asynchronous outputs. After it has received all its rows, it sorts them and adds them to its output.

This section explains in detail how to develop transformations with asynchronous outputs. For a sample transformation component with asynchronous outputs, see the Integration Services samples on Codeplex. For more information about source component development, see Developing a Custom Source Component.

Creating the Component

The SynchronousInputID property on the IDTSOutput100 object identifies whether an output is synchronous or asynchronous. To create an asynchronous output, add the output to the component and set the SynchronousInputID to zero. Setting this property also determines whether the data flow task allocates PipelineBuffer objects for both the input and output of the component, or whether a single buffer is allocated and shared between the two objects.

The following sample code shows a component that creates an asynchronous output in its ProvideComponentProperties implementation.

Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Pipeline
Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Pipeline.Wrapper
Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Runtime

<DtsPipelineComponent(DisplayName:="AsyncComponent", ComponentType:=ComponentType.Transform)> _
Public Class AsyncComponent
    Inherits PipelineComponent

    Public Overrides Sub ProvideComponentProperties()

        ' Call the base class, which adds a synchronous input
        ' and output.

        ' Make the output asynchronous.
        Dim output As IDTSOutput100 = ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection(0)
        output.SynchronousInputID = 0

    End Sub

End Class

Creating and Configuring Output Columns

As mentioned earlier, an asynchronous component adds columns to its output column collection to provide columns to downstream components. There are several design-time methods to choose from, depending on the needs of the component. For example, if you want to pass all the columns from the upstream components to the downstream components, you would override the OnInputPathAttached method to add the columns, because this is the first method in which the input columns are available to the component.

If the component creates output columns based on the columns selected for its input, override the SetUsageType method to select the output columns and to indicate how they will be used.

If a component with asynchronous outputs creates output columns based on the columns from upstream components, and the available upstream columns change, the component should update its output column collection. These changes should be detected by the component during Validate, and fixed during ReinitializeMetaData.


When an output column is removed from the output column collection, downstream components in the data flow that reference the column are adversely affected. The output column must be repaired without removing and recreating the column to prevent breaking the downstream components. For example, if the data type of the column has changed, you must update the data type.

The following code example shows a component that adds an output column to its output column collection for each column available from the upstream component.

Public Overrides Sub OnInputPathAttached(ByVal inputID As Integer)

    Dim input As IDTSInput100 = ComponentMetaData.InputCollection.GetObjectByID(inputID)
    Dim output As IDTSOutput100 = ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection(0)
    Dim vInput As IDTSVirtualInput100 = input.GetVirtualInput()

    For Each vCol As IDTSVirtualInputColumn100 In vInput.VirtualInputColumnCollection

        Dim outCol As IDTSOutputColumn100 = output.OutputColumnCollection.New()
        outCol.Name = vCol.Name
        outCol.SetDataTypeProperties(vCol.DataType, vCol.Length, vCol.Precision, vCol.Scale, vCol.CodePage)

End Sub

Components with asynchronous outputs also execute a different sequence of methods at run time than other types of components. First, they are the only components that receive a call to both the PrimeOutput and the ProcessInput methods. Components with asynchronous outputs also require access to all the incoming rows before they can start processing; therefore, they must cache the input rows internally until all rows have been read. Finally, unlike other components, components with asynchronous outputs receive both an input buffer and an output buffer.

Understanding the Buffers

The input buffer is received by the component during ProcessInput. This buffer contains the rows added to the buffer by upstream components. The buffer also contains the columns of the component's input, in addition to the columns that were provided in the output of an upstream component but were not added to the asynchronous component's input collection.

The output buffer, which is provided to the component in PrimeOutput, does not initially contain rows. The component adds rows to this buffer and provides the buffer to downstream components when it is full. The output buffer contains the columns defined in the component's output column collection, in addition to any columns that other downstream components have added to their outputs.

This is different behavior from that of components with synchronous outputs, which receive a single shared buffer. The shared buffer of a component with synchronous outputs contains both the input and output columns of the component, in addition to columns added to the outputs of upstream and downstream components.

Processing Rows

Caching Input Rows

When you write a component with asynchronous outputs, you have three options for adding rows to the output buffer. You can add them as input rows are received, you can cache them until the component has received all the rows from the upstream component, or you can add them when it is appropriate to do so for the component. The method that you choose depends on the requirements of the component. For example, the Sort component requires that all the upstream rows be received before they can be sorted. Therefore, it waits until all rows have been read before adding rows to the output buffer.

The rows that are received in the input buffer must be cached internally by the component until it is ready to process them. The incoming buffer rows can be cached in a data table, a multidimensional array, or any other internal structure. For an example of a component that caches the incoming buffer rows internally until all rows have been read, see the Remove Duplicates Component Sample.

Adding Output Rows

Whether you add rows to the output buffer as they are received or after receiving all of the rows, you do so by calling the AddRow method on the output buffer. After you have added the row, you set the values of each column in the new row.

Because there are sometimes more columns in the output buffer than in the output column collection of the component, you must locate the index of the appropriate column in the buffer before you can set its value. The FindColumnByLineageID method of the BufferManager property returns the index of the column in the buffer row with the specified lineage ID, which is then used to assign the value to the buffer column.

The PreExecute method, which is called before the PrimeOutput method or the ProcessInput method, is the first method where the BufferManager property is available, and the first opportunity to locate the indexes of the columns in the input and output buffers.

The following sample shows a simple transformation component with asynchronous outputs that adds rows to the output buffer as they are received. This sample does not demonstrate all the methods and functionality discussed in this topic. It demonstrates the important methods that every custom transformation component with asynchronous outputs must override, but does not contain code for design-time validation. Also, the code in ProcessInput assumes that the output column collection has one column for each column in the input column collection. For a complete sample transformation component with asynchronous outputs, see the Remove Duplicates Component Sample.

Imports System
Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Pipeline
Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Pipeline.Wrapper
Imports Microsoft.SqlServer.Dts.Runtime.Wrapper

Namespace Microsoft.Samples.SqlServer.Dts

    <DtsPipelineComponent(DisplayName:="AsynchronousOutput")> _
    Public Class AsynchronousOutput

        Inherits PipelineComponent

        Private outputBuffer As PipelineBuffer
        Private inputColumnBufferIndexes As Integer()
        Private outputColumnBufferIndexes As Integer()

        Public Overrides Sub ProvideComponentProperties()

            ' Let the base class add the input and output objects.

            ' Name the input and output, and make the
            ' output asynchronous.
            ComponentMetaData.InputCollection(0).Name = "Input"
            ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection(0).Name = "AsyncOutput"
            ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection(0).SynchronousInputID = 0
        End Sub

        Public Overrides Sub PreExecute()

            Dim input As IDTSInput100 = ComponentMetaData.InputCollection(0)
            Dim output As IDTSOutput100 = ComponentMetaData.OutputCollection(0)

            ReDim inputColumnBufferIndexes(input.InputColumnCollection.Count)
            ReDim outputColumnBufferIndexes(output.OutputColumnCollection.Count)

            For col As Integer = 0 To input.InputColumnCollection.Count
                inputColumnBufferIndexes(col) = BufferManager.FindColumnByLineageID(input.Buffer, input.InputColumnCollection(col).LineageID)

            For col As Integer = 0 To output.OutputColumnCollection.Count
                outputColumnBufferIndexes(col) = BufferManager.FindColumnByLineageID(output.Buffer, output.OutputColumnCollection(col).LineageID)

        End Sub
        Public Overrides Sub PrimeOutput(ByVal outputs As Integer, ByVal outputIDs As Integer(), ByVal buffers As PipelineBuffer())

            If buffers.Length <> 0 Then
                outputBuffer = buffers(0)
            End If

        End Sub

        Public Overrides Sub ProcessInput(ByVal inputID As Integer, ByVal buffer As PipelineBuffer)

                ' Advance the buffer to the next row.
                While (buffer.NextRow())

                    ' Add a row to the output buffer.
                    For x As Integer = 0 To inputColumnBufferIndexes.Length

                        ' Copy the data from the input buffer column to the output buffer column.
                        outputBuffer(outputColumnBufferIndexes(x)) = buffer(inputColumnBufferIndexes(x))

                End While

            If buffer.EndOfRowset = True Then
                ' EndOfRowset on the input buffer is true.
                ' Set the end of row set on the output buffer.
            End If
        End Sub
    End Class
End Namespace
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